To make the ‘soffritto’ (sautéed base flavouring) for the Minestrone soup, heat the olive oil in a heavy-based stockpot over medium heat. The pancetta adds a lovely flavour to the minestrone however is optional. If you are using pancetta, remove the rind in one piece and set aside, then chop into small cubes. Add the onion and pancetta to the stockpot and cook for a few minutes until the onion is soft.
Add the carrot, celery, bay leaves and dried oregano to the soffritto. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, then add the silver beet (chard/swiss chard), potato, pumpkin (squash or sweet potato), zucchini (courgette), green beans and parsley. Add the tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes then pour the cold water over the vegetables.
Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender (approximately 45 minutes). Meanwhile stir and check the Minestrone soup occasionally. If the soup is looking too thick, add water.
Add the ditali pasta, referring to the cooking time specified in pasta packet instructions.
Ladle hot Minestrone soup among serving bowls. Top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmigiano Reggiano– buon appetito.
2 tablespoons (40ml) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve|1 small onion, finely chopped|150g piece flat pancetta – optional|1 carrot, finely chopped|1 stalk celery, finely chopped|2 bay leaves|1 teaspoon dried oregano|3 stalks silver beet (chard/swiss chard), white stalks discarded and coarsely chopped|1 desiree or sebago (brushed) potato|250g butternut or kent pumpkin (squash, alternatively sweet potato)|1 zucchini (courgette), finely chopped|100g green beans, finely chopped|1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped|30g tomato paste (alternatively 200g Italian canned chopped tomatoes)|3 litres cold water|200g ditali pasta|Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated to serve|Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper